Dec 21, 2016

Our New Learning Center Means Greater Success for Students



Children lining up outside the learning center
As the clock nears 1pm a line starts to form outside the green metal learning center doors. The eager children chatter while they wait. Volunteers and ayudantes work swiftly to prepare the center for the afternoon sessions. Some volunteers are creating name tags for the children, cutting tan card stock into squares and writing down each child's name. Ayudantes Luis and Francisco set up the tablets and computers for the computer classes. Maria and Scarleth prepare to check in the children and let them choose their first learning station. The children can hardly contain their excitement and smile gleefully. 


How it all began

Practicing Spanish with coloring
The idea for the learning center has been a long time in the making. Shortly after her first volunteer experience with La Esperanza Granada, Pauline realized there was a huge gap in the educational experience of Granada's children. During a brief return trip to Australia, she saw that many of the children there spent time learning in the home before and after school. Doing crafts, working on computers, practicing their lessons.

The Nicaraguan children in these impoverished barrios have no access to even basic resources in the home: pens, crayons, paper, books, craft materials or computers. Often they don't even have a table and chair where they can sit and do homework or crafts. Building the learning centers became a way to supplement this need that the schools and parents who often have little or no formal education could not meet.

How it works

The learning center is open every day. It's a safe and clean environment where children can come during their free hours outside their normal school classes to continue learning. The children that attend are truly engaged in learning and are well behaved, compared to large size classes in school where children can often become bored and misbehave as a result.

As it's just getting started, we are only working with the younger children who would normally attend school in the mornings so the learning center is only open now in the afternoons. The center operates three one hour sessions from 1pm to 4pm. There are four stations available to the children in the center: math, Spanish, art and computers. Each child can only attend the same station twice during one visit, and must stay in their chosen station for the entire one hour session.

The children create paper gatos
Volunteers and ayudantes assist the children with engaging and interactive math and Spanish games. They lead creative art projects where the kids get to take home something they created every day. They help the kids learn how to use and navigate engaging learning games and activities on the computers and tablets.

Going forward

The learning centers present a unique opportunity for us to truly help the children in Granada learn, and we mean really learn, as opposed to simply copying words and sentences from the chalk board as is often the reality of normal school classes where resources are stretched very thin. The plan is to build two more centers during the first half of 2017, with the help of Builders Beyond Borders.

Two of our university sponsorship graduates
More importantly, we need a dedicated director for the learning center program, to oversee the operation and management of all the centers as they continue to open. It's very rare that a job like this exists in Nicaragua, and too often it goes to someone who is not a native of this country. Our hope is to hire one of the students that graduated from our university scholarship program. It benefits one of the students we've helped succeed in school, and a local person will understand the needs and desires of the local communities far better than anyone else, and will be willing to commit for a greater length of time.

In order to hire one of these lucky graduates we need $3000 per year. While that doesn't seem like much by U.S. or European standards, that's a pretty outstanding salary in Nicaragua for a very demanding and time consuming commitment.

You can help

We're trying something new. We're asking for support from our fans and past volunteers to help raise the funds for this critically important position through a fundraiser on Generosity.com. We're hoping to raise $12,000 to fund this position for four years. We chose to fund raise using this method as a way to better engage our online community and gain traction outside our normal donor list. 

We're immensely grateful for all our current and past volunteers and from our regular donors that sponsor many local high school and university students, but we need support outside those avenues to continue growing and providing greater opportunity through education for the children of Granada. Please share our fundraiser with your friends, family and social networks and make a donation if you can. Any amount helps.

Watch to learn more about our fundraiser




Dec 2, 2016

Ayudante profile #3: Teodora

This is the third in a series of profiles of our ayudantes. Ayudante means ‘assistant’, and is the name we give to the young people receiving university scholarships through La Esperanza Granada. Alongside their studies, the ayudantes are long term interns who give 5 hours of their time every weekday to support La Esperanza Granada. Our ayudantes are so much more than assistants – they are critical to our success. More information about our ayudante programme is available here. 

When speaking with Teodora, it quickly becomes apparent that you are talking to a smart, determined young woman, confident of her direction in life. This is someone who is going somewhere.

Teodora is currently in her second year as an ayudante at La Esperanza Granada, supporting the teachers and volunteers in Pablo Antonio Cuadra school. Her first year was spent working with kids on computers in two schools, Nueva Esperanza and Escudo, and her desire to succeed and to see the kids progress has given her a firm preference for working with small groups.

“Although we can do a lot of good in the classrooms, we are most effective when working with small groups, or on computers. Kids focus better with fewer distractions and more dedicated support, and we have a chance to tailor our methods to each child.”

Having worked with numerous volunteers, Teodora is also willing to offer an insight into what makes a good or bad volunteer.

“Most volunteers are great – they are enthusiastic, hardworking and make a real difference to the kids. The very best are those who bring skills and experience with them, or who come up with new ideas.

The worst are those who think this it should be one big party and who don’t take the job seriously, turning up late, sometimes hungover, and not paying attention to or remembering what we say. When that happens, it’s a real missed opportunity, for both them and the kids.”

Teodora is in a good position to appreciate the value of the opportunities we can sometimes take for granted in more developed nations. Like Juan Carlos, Teodora´s High School was only able to offer three years tuition instead of the normal five, so she had to switch to technical college.

Encouraged by her father, she studied construction, and dreamed of going on to study engineering at university. However, this would have meant studying at a particular university in Managua, and their fees proved prohibitively expensive.

Instead, Teodora went to work in the office of a construction company. Her work there included all aspects of office administration, and she found a natural instinct for managing the company´s books. A career as an accountant began to look like an increasingly attractive option, and she signed up to study accountancy at university.

“The first year was really tough, because I had to work constantly to be able to pay the fees. I don’t even remember how many different jobs I did that year! But I do remember how exhausting it was, and how little time I had left for studying.”

After hearing about La Esperanza Granada through a friend, Teodora became involved with the project and was soon lucky enough to receive a sponsorship from Project Pulsera to fund the rest of her degree. Although balancing her studies with her duties as an ayudante remains a challenge, Teodora is clear on the benefits it brings.

“It’s made an enormous difference to me, and I’m hugely grateful. Without sponsorship, I don’t know how I would have been able to carry on studying.”

Unlike most students with another two years of studying to go, Teodora already has a clear plan for life after university.

“I hope to be able to start a business with a couple of friends. We are all either accountants or lawyers, and we’d like to create a professional services company, providing legal and accountancy services and advice to other businesses.”

Although common in more developed countries, this sort of integrated services company is a rare thing here. Having spotted this gap in the market, Teodora could be just the person to bring it to Nicaragua.


Oct 27, 2016

Volunteer Teaching Techniques

One of the most effective ways La Esperanza Granada volunteers are able to help is to focus attention on children who have fallen behind their peers. This blog aims to shine a spotlight on some of the best techniques our volunteers are currently using with these children.

Sensory approaches to learning numbers
Naomi and Margarita are both experienced professionals in their home countries. Naomi is a primary teacher in the UK who specialises in children with learning difficulties, whilst Margarita has many years experience of working with children with severe difficulties in the USA. They are part of our team of volunteers in Pablo Antonio Cuadra school, alongside volunteers Paula and Embla, and ayudantes Teodora and Ofelia.  

Both Naomi and Margarita agree that one of the major differences with their home countries is the lack of provision for children with learning difficulties in Nicaragua. They get no special services or additional resources, and there is often an expectation that they are not going to progress. 

Volunteers have an opportunity to change this expectation, by spending time with the children and structuring short, manageable tasks which are targeted at each child’s level. Although the progress they make in each session may be small, the sense that they are doing something worthwhile and are able to successfully complete tasks can be empowering. Naomi:

“Feeling like they are getting somewhere makes a huge difference. I start every tutorial by reminding them of their successes the day before, which builds a sense of progress and makes them much more willing to focus and try again. Keeping up this positive reinforcement with praise throughout the session also helps keeps them engaged.”

Using textured letters to learn the alphabet
Another helpful approach is the use of tactile resources. These come in many forms, including large, colourful, textured letters and numbers, plasticine, picture cards and more. 

“Sensory learning uses a combination of visual, auditory and tactile stimuli to engage multiple areas of the brain, making it much easier to recall information later. Using tactile objects also helps make kids feel more engaged and in control of their own learning. 

For example, I’ve been working with a number of kids who have struggled to learn their alphabet. Tracing their fingers over a large, textured letter shape then re-making it out of pipe cleaners or plasticine can really help fix the shape in their minds.”

This approach is also important in maths, where sometimes children (and not just those in Nicaragua) learn the forms without really understanding how they relate to reality. This can lead, for example, to children memorizing that 5 + 4 = 9, but not being able to work out problems in real-life scenarios. Sensory learning builds this link to reality in from the start.

“We also play simple games with the kids, which highlight how all numbers are related. For example, I sometimes ask a child to order number cards from one to twenty, then I remove one of the teens. Figuring out which number is missing requires them to think about that number in relation to the others around it, and they often deduce the missing number rather than remembering it.”

When children have more severe difficulties, a more tailored approach is required. A good example is a young boy who has difficulty speaking and is unable to engage much with the other children or his classes at the school. Margarita:

“One of the first things I noticed was that he wouldn’t make eye contact with me, or look at my face. This is often the case with children with speech difficulties, who haven’t learned to watch faces and to copy the shapes people make with their mouths when speaking. Persuading him to watch me speak was one of my first aims.”

Learning to sort shapes
With this boy, much of their focus has been on helping him develop skills children ordinarily learn much earlier, such as the motor skills to hold a pencil, and how to complete basic tasks like sorting blocks by colour or shape. 

As with other children, creating a sense of expectation and rewarding good behaviour has been key:

“It was especially important to make it clear that nothing is going to come for free – he both can and should earn the things he wants. This starts very small, like not allowing him to play with the blocks until he´s made eye contact with me, or looked up at my face. But it builds into an expectation that he tries in every session, and if he does, he gets a reward. This is really important in motivating him to practice more difficult things, like repeating words and learning to count.”

Being read to at the end of a session is the most popular reward by far. For both Naomi and Margarita though, reading books to children shouldn’t just be considered a treat, but an essential part of their learning.

Reading to the kids

“Being read to engages children on lots of different levels – it improves their vocabulary, helps link written and spoken words, introduces new ideas and activates their imagination.


We always try to read slowly and follow the words with a finger, so they can see how the sounds correspond to written words. Asking them questions about the story afterwards invites them to reflect and think about it too.

The kids love this, and it’s one of the easiest things we can do as volunteers. But it is also an incredibly powerful learning tool.”

The techniques highlighted here require additional time and resources that can be limited in Nicaraguan schools. By being this additional resource and focusing attention where it is most needed, our volunteers are making a real difference.

Sep 30, 2016

Ayudante profile #2: Enoc

This is the second in a series of profiles of our ayudantes. Ayudante means ‘assistant’, and is the name we give to the young people receiving university scholarships through La Esperanza Granada. Alongside their studies, the ayudantes are long term interns who give 5 hours of their time every weekday to support La Esperanza Granada. Our ayudantes are so much more than assistants – they are critical to our success. More information about our ayudante programme is available here. 

Enoc is one of our newest ayudantes, and began his internship with La Esperanza Granada just 9 months ago. He is based in Mercedes Mondragon school, where he teaches English to the children alongside some of our international volunteers. This can be challenging, with classes routinely containing up to 35 children, but Enoc enjoys it. He cites one key factor to their success - teamwork.

“Everything about our work in the schools is done together. We plan our lessons together, and teach alongside each other. Even when we are able to divide the kids into groups for different activities, we are still working to the same plan.”

Enoc knows what a difference a strong ayudante and volunteer team can make – he was in the 6th grade at Nueva Esperanza school when La Esperanza Granada volunteers started to work there, and remembers how it changed things.

“They introduced lots of new activities, games and sports, which really helped to keep us interested and engaged. The teachers just don’t have enough time for that sort of thing, but it makes a huge difference to the kids.”

After primary school, Enoc found himself drifting, struggling to adapt to high school and losing interest in his studies. A high school sponsorship from La Esperanza Granada gave him the opportunity to change school, re-engage with learning and embrace a more optimistic outlook.

“The new school was totally different. They taught a wider range of subjects, gave us more support and really sparked my interest in learning again.”

Enoc is now in his first year at UCAN University in Masaya, studying software engineering and learning how to code, build databases and more. He has always been interested in technology (and has also taught computing for La Esperanza Granada), and this course has provided the opportunity to take his understanding to a new level, and turn his interest into highly employable skills.

“The opportunities in Nicaragua are getting better all the time. Once I have finished my studies, I hope to find a good job that makes the most of the skills I’m learning now.”

When asked if he has anything else he want to add, Enoc has only one thing on his mind:

“I just want to say thank you for the opportunities I’ve been given through La Esperanza Granada. Without the support of my sponsors, I wouldn’t have finished high school and could never have dreamt of going to university or working alongside volunteers from all over the world. I’m delighted I’m able to give something back by working for La Esperanza Granada whilst studying, and I hope to help support many other kids like me to go on to high school and university.”

Enoc’s unprompted enthusiasm is a good reminder of why La Esperanza Granada is here – to support young people to get the education they need to take control of their lives and realise their potential.

Aug 31, 2016

Ayudante profile #1: Juan Carlos

This is the first in a series of profiles of our ayudantes. Ayudante means ‘assistant’, and is the name we give to the young people receiving university scholarships through La Esperanza Granada. Alongside their studies, the ayudantes are long term interns who give 5 hours of their time every weekday to support La Esperanza Granada. Our ayudantes are so much more than assistants – they are critical to our success. More information about our ayudante programme is available here.

Juan Carlos first heard of La Esperanza Granada when he was around 17 years old. He had always dreamed of going to university, and of the opportunities higher education would bring. But as a student at Pablo Antonio Cuadra (one of the schools where La Esperanza Granada is now most active), he had found his options limited.

“At that time, Pablo Antonio Cuadra was only able to offer three years of high school education, instead of the normal five. So after three years I had to move to technical college, where I studied to become a mechanic.” 

Two years after graduating and starting work as a mechanic, Juan Carlos heard about the scholarships offered by La Esperanza Granada from the Principal of his old school. He jumped at the chance to apply.

“When I heard that I had been accepted on to the programme, I was so happy I almost didn´t know what to think. I´ve loved reading and writing ever since my mother taught me when I was small, and the chance to continue studying and learn a new language was a dream come true.” 

Just a few months later, Juan Carlos began his degree in English at Unadenic in Managua, and started volunteering 5 days a week for La Esperanza.

Juan Carlos´ first role was as an ayudante in Jose de la Cruz Mena school. He spent a year supporting international volunteers working with pre-schoolers, before switching to the team teaching English.

“For me, working in the English team was perfect. When I started my degree I spoke very little English, but working with volunteers from all over the world taught me lots of vocabulary very quickly.”

Around four months ago, Juan Carlos moved from the school to La Esperanza’s office. He is involved in almost all areas of the office’s work, and is responsible for answering queries from future volunteers, organising airport pickups for new volunteers, and many other things. The switch was challenging, but Juan Carlos sees it only as a positive. 

It is an amazing opportunity. Working in the office involves lots of reading, writing and speaking in English, which is tough but great practice.”

When asked about the importance of local and international volunteers working alongside each other, Juan Carlos is forthright.  

“It´s essential. The ayudantes are here for up to five years, which is far longer than most volunteers. This means that we really get to understand how the organisation and schools work. That is good for us, and good for the other volunteers.”

Juan Carlos has two years left of his studies, and is considering becoming a high school teacher when he graduates. Whichever career path he chooses to take, working with volunteers from all over the world has given him a new dream – to save money, travel and see more of the world himself.  

Jul 28, 2016

Volunteer Spotlight: Michel Antoine


Spotlight Volunteer
1) Introduce yourself:
-What is your name?
Michel Antoine
-How old are you?
I’m 26
-Where do you come from?
New-York (U.S.A)
-Why did you decide to do some volunteering?
I wanted to help others who are less fortunate than myself. I wanted to make a difference. I also wanted to improve my Spanish.
-What was your Spanish level before coming?
My Spanish level was between intermediate and advanced. I feel that my Spanish has improved a little but it is still not where I want it.
2) What are you doing here in La Esperanza Granada?
- What job are you doing? (teacher,….)
1st grade teacher assistant
- In which school?
Nueva Esperanza
- How many weeks are you staying here?
4 weeks
-What are your first impressions (of the school, the children,…)?
My first impressions were feelings of sadness based on all of the things that the children don’t have. The desks, books, pencils, erasers were all in very poor conditions; or there was a lack of these items. I also felt really excited to help out as much as I can. Despite these children not having a lot, they find ways to entertain themselves, like chasing after animals in a harmless and playful manner.

One surprise for me was the variation in academic levels in the same class. Some children can read short stories while others can’t identify letters and numbers. I wish there were more resources for these children.

May 20, 2016

Student Spotlight 2!

This time we had a nice conversation with Marta, a twelve year old kid attending the third grade in Nueva Esperanza school.

When she starts mentioning her family’s members the list seems endless: they are eight brothers and sisters and the ninth will be born in a month! Under the same steel roof, in this house in Pantanal Community, Marta is living with her parents, six brothers, (three older and three younger), a younger sister- nearly two-, a sister in law and a niece. Animals aren’t missing of course: three dogs, a rooster and some chickens complete the picture.
“Yes, we are a lot! But sometimes we are even more when grandparents and uncles come to visit!”
She keeps on smiling and the crowded atmosphere of her house doesn’t seem to bother her.

Her father works fixing electronic devices such as fans, mobile phones and televisions; the older brothers have a job as well: one of them makes and sells bracelets in La Calzada street, in the center of Granada, another one works in the coffee harvest field and the third one makes shoes. Her mum usually stays at home where of course she has a lot of work to do(!!), but last year she worked in a farm in coffee harvest, too.

Every afternoon, Marta, as the older daughter of the family, helps her mum with domestic chores, especially cooking beans and selling them in front of their house. “Now that my mum is pregnant I can do it by myself!  I can cook very well!”. But more than her ability in the kitchen, what Marta really cares talking about is how is likes school and how she never forgets doing her homework in the afternoon. “I study every day because I really want to improve!”.


What’s her dream? She would like to be a doctor: “One day I will be a doctor and I’ll work in a hospital!”.

.....................................................................................................................

Esta vez hemos hablado con Marta, una muchacha de doce años que asiste al tercer grado en la escuela Nueva Esperanza.

Cuando empieza a nombrar los miembros de su familia la lista parece interminable: son ocho hermanos y hermanas y la novena va a nacer dentro de un mes. Bajo el mismo techo de zinc, en esta casa en la Comunidad del Pantanal, Marta vive con sus padres, seis hermanos (tres mayores y tres chiquitos), una hermana menor -casi dos-, una cuñada y una sobrina. Los animales no faltan, por cierto: tres perros, un gallo y unas gallinas completan el dibujo.
“Si somos muchos! ¡Pero algunas veces somos aún más cuando mis abuelos y mis tíos vienen a visitar!”.
Ella sigue sonriendo y no parece que la atmosfera abarrotada de su casa la moleste.
Su padre se ocupa de reparar instrumentos electrónicos como abanicos, celulares y televisiones; los hermanos mayores trabajan también: uno de ellos hace y vende pulseras en la calle La Calzada, en el centro de Granada, otro se ocupa de recoger y cortar café y el tercero trabaja en una zapatería. Su mamá habitualmente está en casa donde por cierto ya tiene mucho que hacer (¡!), pero el año pasado trabajó durante algunos meses cortando café en una finca.
Por la tarde, Marta, como es la hija mayor de la familia, ayuda a su madre con las tareas domésticas, sobretodo cocinando frijoles que venden en frente de la casa. “Ahora que mi mamá está embarazada lo hago yo sola! ¡Cocino muy bien!”. Pero en vez de hablar sobre su habilidad como cocinera, Marta prefiere contar cómo le gusta la escuela y que nunca se olvida hacer sus tareas por la tarde. “Estudio todos los días porque quiero seguir avanzando!”.
¿Cuál es su sueño? Le gustaría ser doctora: “Seré doctora un día y trabajaré en el hospital!”

Apr 11, 2016

Student Spotlight!


The very first Student Spotlight is on Raundy! Raundy is a 6 year old student at Escudo who has a reputation of being an excellent student. When we asked a teacher about a prized student, without hesitation, he quickly left and came back with Raundy who shows off the softest smile.

Raundy´s favorite subject is Spanish, and is sport fanatic who dreams of becoming a professional baseball player. Along with the dream of becoming an athlete, he hopes to become a carpenter like his dad.

Raundy is an only child in his family which consists of his Mom and Dad. In the small family, the positive influence that Raundy´s parents play in his life is undeniable and can be displayed in every aspect of his life. For example, Raundy grew up watching his dad work as a carpenter, which nurtured his dreams of also becoming a distinguished carpenter. And his mom is no less of an important figure either. She is a stay-at-home mom who acts as the most important teacher in Raundy´s life. Along with being in charge of housekeeping, she makes exercises in the house to ensure Raundy is excelling in his studies.

Along with his classmates, Raundy hopes to visit the United States soon, and loves to eat chocolate and fried chicken.


Fun fact about Raundy: He is contemplating when to break up with his girlfriend. 

Mar 14, 2016

First Impressions of Nicaragua


Katherine Currier is a volunteer traveling from the United States. She is spending 6 months as a volunteer with La Esperanza as a member of our English teaching teams.  Here´s what she had to say about her experience, five weeks in -I have really enjoyed my time thus far with La Esperanza, Granada. Some things I have noticed:1. Plastic bags are used in many different ways. I asked for a coca cola and received it in a plastic bag. 2. Since Granada is a small city, bicycles are an excellent mode of transportation. 3. There is an incredible amount of energy in the city especially in the kids and the marketplace.4. Working with the kids can be a crazy-making experience but it is tremendously satisfying when you make even a small connection with the them. 5. It feels great to be here.¡For the niños!





Mar 8, 2016

Village Walking Tours

In the midst of poverty, the communities where La Esperanza volunteers work, are filled with hope. The community members work hard to make a basic living and raise their families.  

Every week, we offer tours where visitors to Granada can view the areas where our students grow up. On the tour we view Nueva Esperanza primary school, Nueva Esperanza secondary school, and the surrounding neighborhoods where we have built over 35 homes for families.

Many times, the greatest project ideas and fundraising efforts have begun after a person who has attended one of our tours heads back home and shares their photos and stories from the tour with their friends and family.    
If you´ll be heading to Granada soon and looking for a productive way to spend one of your mornings during your time here, consider a village walking tour.  Just email the office with the date you´re hoping for at info@la-esperanza-granada.org



Jan 8, 2016

Summer Morning at Nueva Esperanza

One of my roles as the Communications & Promotions Volunteer for La Esperanza is to visit the work sites and take photos of what might be going on.  Today was special in that there were so many different projects happening in the Nueva Esperanza community.   

First stop was to visit volunteers Bridget & Stefan (from Germany) and Peter (from the United Kingdom) who were building a new house for a family.  Every year, the students that have met their academic goals and have successfully kept up their attendance, get entered into a lottery to receive home repairs or a new home for their family.  The Sevilla Mercado family was one of the winners this summer. This family of four includes mother, father and two daughters.  One of the girls is in 5th grade at Nueva Esperanza and the other is enrolled in special education courses at Vicente Paul School.   When we visited, the family and their friends were helping the volunteers by laying concrete blocks and rolling wheelbarrows full of materials over to the house.  The mother of the family was beaming as she watched her new home come to life before her eyes.


Then I headed back to the school for my main mission of the morning - to size the students for uniforms with my fellow volunteers and the ayudantes. This was definitely a good test of my knowledge of numbers in Spanish.  Thirteen numbers per student were called out to me for transcription - 7 measurements for each set of pants and 6 for each shirt.   The kind tailor, Luis, that I was working with was very patient with my Spanish and made sure to double check that all my "sesentas" were 60s and my "setentas" were 70s in my notebook. When we were done with all the measuring, Luis took the list of sizes with him where he will personally sew each uniform to fit the new high school student.  These new uniforms are just one part of what a scholarship covers when a student is sponsored by a generous donor.  We do have a dozen more students who still need to be sponsored this year in order to go on to high school.  If that might be something you could consider doing, please contact La Esperanza if you'd like more information on the scholarship program. 
When we finished sizing, I got a few minutes to chat with students visiting from Westfield State University in the United States.  This is the school´s sixth trip out to Granada to serve with La Esperanza.  Currently they are working on a project to build a new classroom at the Nueva Esperanza primary school.  This is not work for the lighthearted – they were diligently digging holes, carrying large buckets of water, and painting beams in the hot sun.  It will be excellent when the project is finished to have more spaces for the children to learn in.   


In addition to all the special projects going on, the hard-working volunteers were busy conducting summer school classes at the school. The volunteers and ayudantes who had put together their lessons prior to the classes this morning, were carrying them out.  One project of particular interest to the students this morning was the science lesson on volcanoes.  The children created volcanoes that really erupted with the help of a secret ingredient (psst…it was vinegar)! 


Tomorrow I will be leading a tour (which we offer every week for those interested!) and I know I´ll be proud to take visitors to our school where so much good is being accomplished.

-Blog submission by Jenny Tatum, La Esperanza Communications and Promotions volunteer from the United States - September 2015 to March 2016

Jan 4, 2016

Interview with Volunteer Daniel Munns Entrevista con voluntario Daniel Munns

Dan (far right) with some of his office team members - Karen, Jenny and Donald

Dan is originally from the United Kingdom but has lived in Korea and Mexico before arriving in Granada, Nicaragua.  He has volunteered in the office with La Esperanza for 3 months.  He answered inquiries of incoming volunteers and perfected his written Spanish through lots of translating of blogs, orientation information, and website posts. He´ll be heading back to Mexico at the end of this week.   

Dan es de Inglaterra pero ha vivido en Corea y Mexico antes de llegar a Granada, Nicaragua. Ha sido voluntario en la oficina de la Esperanza por 3 meses. Ha contestado muchos correos de nuevos voluntarios y ha mejorado su español escrito por traduciendo nuestro blog, información de orientación y las publicaciones de nuestra página web.

How did you find out about La Esperanza?
Como encontraste sobre La Esperanza?
A friend told me about the organisation in Mexico and then I looked it up and it sounded like a good place to work. I was working with another educational charity in Mexico before and I really enjoyed it. I came to Nicaragua to try out a new place, culture etc.
Un amigo me dijo sobre la organización en México y la busqué por el internet. Me intereso mucho y me pareció un buen lugar para trabajar. Trabajaba con una otra organización educacional en México antes y lo disfrutaba mucho. Vine a Nicaragua para probar un nuevo sitio, cultura etc.

What is your current volunteer role with La Esperanza?
Cual es tu trabajo voluntario con La Esperanza?
I work in the office doing communications and promotions.
Trabajo en la oficina haciendo promociones y comunicaciones.

Describe how a day of working looks like.
Descibe un dia trabajando en la oficina, mira como.
Get into the office at 9 and answer lots emails. Generally, I deal with new volunteers and their application process. However, we deal with lots of other things in the office from handing out flyers for our tour to bagging up raffle prizes for the students for special events. Depending on the work we finish at midday or 1pm. Normally, I go for lunch with the other volunteer in the office Jenny after work.
Llego a la oficina a las 9 y contesto tantos correos. Generalmente, lidio con los nuevos voluntarios y sus procesos de aplicaciones. Sin embargo, hay mucho trabajo diferente en la oficina. A veces, distribuimos folletos de nuestro tour y organizamos premios para los niños de las fiestas en la escuela. Depende del trabajo, terminamos al mediodía o a la una de la tarde. Normalmente, almuerzo con la otra voluntaria de la oficina Jenny después del trabajo.


What has been your worst experience working as a volunteer at La Esperanza so far?
Cual ha sido tu peor experiencia trabajando como un volunatario en La Esperanza?
I haven't really had any bad experiences working in the office. The people in the office are all good fun and I never dread going into work.If I was going to complain about something it would probably be answering emails about information that is already on our website.
De verdad, no he tenido experiencias malas trabajando en la oficina. La gente de la oficina es divertida y nunca me temo ir a trabajar.Si, iba a quejarme sobre algo, probablemente contestador preguntas cuando de la información está en la página web.


What has been your best experience working as a volunteer at La Esperanza so far?
Cual ha sido tu major experencia trabajando como un volunatario en La Esperanza?
I've probably enjoyed most going into the schools at different points for parties etc. and seeing what the organisation does firsthand. This is a normal experience for most volunteers as they work in the schools but I've only been able to do it a few times. However, I'm not complaining about this because I've worked with children a lot in the past and wanted to do something different this time round.
Probablemente, lo más que he disfrutado es ir a las escuelas en algunos días para fiestas especiales etc. y ver lo que hace la organización en vivo. Es una experiencia normal para la mayoría de los voluntarios porque trabajan en las escuelas pero yo solo he pedido tener la oportunidad pocas veces. No obstante, no me quejo de esto porque he trabajado con niños antes y quería hacer algo diferente esta vez. 
 
Enjoying a presentation at Nueva Esperanza Secondary School 

Have you done some trips during the weekend?
Has hecho algunos viajes durante los fines de semana?
Generally, no. To support myself while I'm here I've been working online and Sunday is a busy day for me. I have been able to take a few trips on long weekends when I've taken time off from my other job. However, this is in stark contrast to most of the volunteers who go away almost every weekend.
En general, no. Para apoyarme durante mi estancia aquí he estado trabajando en línea y domingo es un día muy ocupado para mí. He podido tomar unas vacaciones largas cuando no he tenido trabajo por los fines de semanas. Al contrario, la mayoría de los voluntarios viajan cada fin de semana.

What do you like the least about Nicaragua?
Que te gusta al menos acerca de Nicaragua?
This is difficult because I don't think you can talk about the whole country, especially since I've only lived in Granada. I'll tell you what I liked least about Granada.
For me the thing that I've found most difficult is making friends with locals. I feel that because this is such a touristy town and there is a large expat population there is quite a divide between the locals and foreigners. I really wanted to improve my spoken Spanish and assumed I would meet lots of Nicas but that hasn't happened as much as I would've liked.
Also, even though the town is large and has quite a large population, after dark you are really restricted to a few streets in the centre of town. At times I've felt a little boxed in and got bored of the bars quite quickly. I think this affected me more than other volunteers because I spent most weekends in the city.
Esto es difícil contestar. Yo no creo que se pueda hablar de todo el país, especialmente porque solo he vivido en Granada. Les diré lo que me gusta al menos sobre Granada.
Para mí la cosa más desilusionante es hacer amigos con los Nicas. Siento que es un pueblo muy turístico y hay una población de extranjeros muy grande y por eso hay una división entre los Nicas y los extranjeros. Quería mucho mejorar mi español hablado y asumí que conociera muchos Nicas pero eso no paso como tanto me hubiera gustado.
También, aunque la ciudad y la población son bastante grandes, después de atardecer estas limitado de unas calles en el centro. A veces, me sentía un poco atrapado y ya me aburrí de los barres. Creo que esto me ha afectado más que los otros voluntarios porque pasaba la mayoría de mis fines de semanas en la ciudad.  

Spending time with fellow volunteers after work 


What do you like most about Nicaragua?
Que te gusta mas sobre Nicaragua?
It is a stunningly beautiful country. Getting outside the city is amazing and I'm really looking forward to doing a bit of travelling when I leave. There is so much to do and see. Also, I love rum and the fact that a litre of one of the best rums in the world costs 6 pounds is great.

Es un impresionante y hermoso país. Saliendo de la ciudad es increíble y no puedo esperar hasta que pueda viajar un poco antes de irme. Hay tantas cosas a ver y hacer. También, me encanta Ron y cuando un litro de uno de los mejores rones del mundo cuesta 6 libras, es genial.